It's day one of pre-season training and ACT Brumbies rookie Rory Scott's lungs are burning.
The Marist College product never really thought this is where he would end up, joining the reigning Super Rugby AU champions' top squad alongside four other club academy graduates.
Scott always thought he would just get through school and pick up something at university. But somewhere along the line rugby union came to the fore.
Maybe it was when he ditched an end of school trip in 2018 to link up with the Australian Schoolboys on an overseas tour, or when he got a taste of training with the Brumbies and won John I Dent Cup grand finals with the Canberra Royals.
Now the Canberra junior has a 1.2 kilometre time trial behind him on day one of his first pre-season as a full-time Brumby after getting the call up from coach Dan McKellar.
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"It was pretty exciting, it kind of felt unreal. I didn't really expect it when it came, but it's definitely a good feeling," Scott said.
"Once I started [with the academy] you definitely start thinking about it a fair bit, but going through school I just wanted to be a good rugby player, but I never really thought this was where I was going to end up.
"I'd never thought that far ahead, I thought I would just get through school and it would figure itself out, which I guess has kind of happened. I just thought I would get through uni and that would help me.
"When I started year 11 I thought I did pretty well [in rugby], and in year 12 I just built on that a little bit. It definitely started there, my progression."
The emerging back-rower joins four other academy products in the Brumbies' 2021 squad, a group boasting openside flanker Luke Reimer, hooker Billy Pollard, scrumhalf Lachie Albert, and lock Tom Hooper.
The bulk of the Brumbies' top squad has reassembled for a five-week block of training with the club's raft of Wallabies representatives not due back until January.
"The fact they're out probably means I get a few more reps, which definitely has its challenges but it gives you more opportunities to show what you can do," Scott said.
"It's very exciting. There were definitely some nerves, but you've just got to channel those and try to relax, you've just got to go out there and do your job.
"I'm just going to put my head down, do the work, and hopefully that's recognised at some stage."
McKellar says all five academy graduates spent time with the senior group last season and "they've proven they are ready to make the step up".
They join 27 returning players for next season, which opens with a domestic competition before a trans-Tasman tournament against New Zealand-based rivals, while the Brumbies will add a sprinkling of new faces to the group.
"Part of my vision for the club when I took over as head coach was the Brumbies having a thriving Academy programme and we're already seeing the benefits of that," McKellar said.
"For these young men, the hard work starts now and for us as coaches, our job is to make sure they continue to improve so that when we expose them to the top level, they're ready."